Sunday December 8, 2019

Vitamin A Deficiency In Children Reduces Immunity, WHO On Malnutrition

To fight this menace, we need to create sustainable, resilient food systems for healthy diets and ensure that social protection and nutrition-related education is available to all. 

0
//

Children in the national capital may encounter stunted growth and become more vulnerable to diseases as more than a quarter of them under the age of five are underweight, a National Family Health Survey revealed on Tuesday.

According to data provided by the fourth edition of the survey, 27.3 per cent children in Delhi have an improper age-weight ratio, falling below the World Health Organization (WHO) standard, indicating the lack of nutrition in the diet they take.

“Our children require the best nutrition as they grow faster in this age and need proper nutrition for healthy growth. However, they are also the biggest sufferers due to lack of equal access to nutrition.

“Malnutrition is not just lack of food, it is a combination of factors like insufficient protein, energy and micronutrients, poor care and feeding practices, inadequate health services, frequent infections or disease, and poor water and sanitation.

child
Representational image showing a malnutrition ridden child.

“In the long term, it may impair the child’s physical and mental development,” said Raghuram Mallaiah, Director, Neonatology at New Delhi’s Fortis La Femme.

He added that inadequate nutrition may stunt a child’s growth, deprive him or her of essential vitamins and minerals, and make children more susceptible to infectious diseases such as malaria, diarrhoea, measles and can even cause death.

According to the WHO, malnutrition is the single biggest threat to global public health and causes nearly 45 per cent deaths of children aged under five years.

As per reports, malnutrition in children impacts their education as the degree of cognitive impairment is directly related to the severity of stunting and Iron Deficiency Anaemia (IDA).

Stunted children in the first two years of life usually have lower cognitive test scores, delayed enrolment, higher absenteeism and more class repetition compared with non-stunted children.

malnutrition in India
Malnutrition needs an end

Vitamin A deficiency in children reduces immunity and increases the incidence and gravity of infectious diseases that result in increased school absenteeism.

Underweight children are likely to be at a greater risk of premature death due to the negative impacts of undernourishment such as micronutrient deficiencies, poor immunity and susceptibility to infections.

Also Read: Protein Identified Enables New Drugs to Increase ‘Good Cholesterol’ Levels

“To fight this menace, we need to create sustainable, resilient food systems for healthy diets and ensure that social protection and nutrition-related education is available to all.

“We also need to align our health systems to the nutrition needs of children, ensuring that policies are devised to improve access to nutrition,” Mallaiah said.(IANS)

Next Story

Measles Kills 140,000 people, WHO Calls it “Collective Failure”

WHO Decries 'Collective Failure' as Measles Kills 140,000

0
Measles- WHO
A child reacts after receiving a measles-rubella vaccination in Yangon, Myanmar. VOA

Measles infected nearly 10 million people in 2018 and killed 140,000, mostly children, as devastating outbreaks of the viral disease hit every region of the world, the World Health Organization said on Thursday.

In figures described by its director general as “an outrage,” the WHO said most of last year’s measles deaths were in children under five years old who had not been vaccinated.

“The fact that any child dies from a vaccine-preventable disease like measles is frankly an outrage and a collective failure to protect the world’s most vulnerable children,” said the WHO’s director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus.

The picture for 2019 is even worse, the WHO said, with provisional data up to November showing a three-fold increase compared with the same period in 2018.

The United States has already reported its highest number of measles cases in 25 years in 2019, while four countries in Europe — Albania, the Czech Republic, Greece and Britain — lost their WHO “measles-free” status in 2018 after suffering large outbreaks.

An ongoing outbreak of measles in South Pacific nation of Samoa has infected more than 4,200 people and killed more than 60, mostly babies and children, in a battle complicated by a vocal anti-vaccination movement.

Globally, measles vaccination rates have stagnated for almost a decade, the WHO said. It and the UNICEF children’s fund say that in 2018, around 86% of children got a first dose of measles vaccine through their country’s routine vaccination services, and fewer than 70% got the second dose recommended to fully protect them from measles infection.

Highly contagious

Samoa Measles
A child gets vaccinated at a health clinic in Apia, Samoa. Samoa. VOA

Measles is one of the most contagious known diseases — more so than Ebola, tuberculosis or flu. It can linger in the air or on surfaces for several hours after an infected person has been and gone — putting anyone not vaccinated at risk.

In some wealthier nations, vaccination rates have been hit by some parents shunning them for what they say are religious or philosophical reasons. Mistrust of authority and debunked myths about links to autism also weaken vaccine confidence and lead some parents to delay protecting their children.

Research published in October showed that measles infection not only carries a risk of death or severe complications including pneumonia, brain damage, blindness and deafness, but can also damage the victim’s immune memory for months or years — leaving those who survive measles vulnerable to other dangerous diseases such as flu or severe diarrhea.

The WHO data showed there were an estimated 9,769,400 cases of measles and 142,300 related deaths globally in 2018. This compares to 7,585,900 cases and 124,000 deaths in 2017.

Also Read- UN Aims at Curbing Carbon Emissions Globally

In 2018, measles hit hardest in Liberia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Somalia and Ukraine, the WHO said, with these five nations accounting for nearly half of global cases.

Robert Linkins, a specialist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the data were worrying: “Without improving measles vaccine coverage we’re going to continue to see these needless deaths. We must turn this trend around.” (VOA)